I must be honest. I have never really been the type to wave the American flag and sing the patriotic songs with a tear in my eye. I am not going to tell you that the USA is the best place to live on the planet, in fact, I would love to move away for a number of years (not that I have a grudge against my home country, but because I want new experiences). However, I will celebrate today some of the things that America stands for. I value America because it is a land of opportunity and a land of liberty. It is amazing that if you dream something and work hard, there is a good possibility that you can make it happen here (do not get all cynical on me). I am free to act and to create, to be myself and try to influence others. I am free to choose to act or to be acted upon. It is incredible how close to limitless I am.
This makes me think of civilizations in which leaders do not trust their citizens to make correct decisions for themselves. It is also like a parent that does not trust her son and so she puts excessive limits on him (which makes him want to rebel more). The leaders and parents want good things for those whom they are responsible for, but take away something so precious because of this consuming desire. I am grateful to live in a country and have parents that have allowed me (more or less) to have to choice to be whatever I want to be. To be a strong individual instead of a puppet.
There is a bigger lesson to be learned here. Imagine a leader and parent of us all. Someone with a huge responsibility and in interest in our outcomes. A parent to us all would want us all to do what is best for us (let us assume that he knows, I know, it was hard for you to think that your mom really did know better than you when you wanted to stand on the very edge when you were five years old, clumsy, and thought you were invincible). It would be hard to let us choose for ourselves. However, always forcing someone to do good does not make a good person, it makes a good robot. Can you perhaps consider that this situation is very real indeed? We were given that beautiful gift to be free agents unto ourselves and to be able to become whatever we want to become! We mess up all the time, and its scary. Think how scary it is for the parent or leader. But it is the only way we can become something magnificent: to reach our true potential. That isn't to say that we don't have help and some boundaries to help keep us safe (a parent might enforce a curfew and a leader might enforce speeding laws), but we ultimately get to choose how to respond to everything (including the help we might be offered).
Basically, today I am grateful that I am free to act for myself. To have this gift from God, from my family, and from my country.